Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have lauded the creation of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy and called for the involvement of more experts in its management to meet its targets.
They stated this at the 14th Annual General Meeting and Lecture of the Nigerian Maritime Law Association (NMLA), which also elected a new leadership for the association.
Delivering the keynote address in Benin City, capital of Edo State, titled “Urgent Regulatory Reform in the Maritime Industry: Setting the Agenda for the New Administration,” the Chairman of NMLA, Mr. Greg Ogbeifun, called on the managers of the new ministry to be willing to listen to advice and make the right decisions.
Ogbeifun said: “They have not started well. We wish industry practitioners were brought into the top leadership to head the place, but again we are grateful that the administration of President Bola Tinubu has set up that ministry.
“They have appointed the people they want to appoint, but I hope they are ready to understand the sector and take decisions on that. We all have to try and help them but after these first appointments, in the immediate layers, the people there should be professionals.”
He said that one of the problems of the seaports in Nigeria is aging infrastructure and less opportunity for expansion in the seaports as development has encroached into them.
He also called for regulatory reforms in the sector to fix it.
According to him, “Although the maritime industry is Nigeria’s economic centre of gravity and offers great opportunities for the growth and development of the nation, the industry is plagued with numerous challenges, including regulatory bottlenecks, poor maritime infrastructure, inadequate flag administration, security concerns, unfavorable fiscal policies, inadequate funding, and inadequate supply of skilled personnel to name a few.
“As Nigeria ushers in a new administration, the need for urgent regulatory reforms in the maritime industry is essential to set a robust agenda that will address the challenges and unlock the full potential of Nigeria’s maritime and shipping industry.”
Earlier, the President of NMLA, Mrs. Funke Agbor (SAN) commended the Edo State Government for its support for the meeting.
Agbor said that the association has been at the forefront of ensuring that maritime related legislations and treaties which Nigeria is a signatory are domesticated to boost the industry just as she urged practitioners to explore the opportunities that the new ministry provides.
She said: “Now that the government has established this (new ministry), then it is for us to ensure that we take advantage, equip ourselves, equip all the clusters that make up the maritime industry so that government is made to create the enabling environment sufficiently for us to be able measure and take government on account of what they will do.”